How to find a private dentist

Finding an available NHS dentist can be a difficult task. They’re in such short supply and there can be long waiting lists before you’re even considered, but there are still some practices willing to take on new NHS patients if you happen to be in the right place at the right time. 

This article is written by Jackie Griffiths, a freelance journalist who writes health, medical, biological, and pharmaceutical articles for national and international journals, newsletters and web sites.

However, many people prefer to go private for an alternative source of dental treatment, including some which may not be available on the NHS.

More and more people want to find a dentist who can do private work as well as NHS dentistry, as the desire for private treatment like cosmetic dentistry, which is unavailable on the NHS, becomes increasingly popular.

What is a private dentist?

A private dentist is a qualified dental practitioner who can treat general dental problems and issues to do with oral health, plus most cosmetic dental requirements as well. They may have specialist experience in areas that NHS dentists don’t cover, for example, teeth whitening, dental implants, braces, smile makeovers, and white fillings. Patients of private dentists must meet the costs of their treatment in full, as private dental treatment is not subsidised by the NHS.

Most private dentists will be up-to-date on the latest cosmetic techniques and can offer a wide range of dental treatments for both clinical and cosmetic reasons. Most will also advertise the types of treatment they offer, and many specialise in specific areas or techniques.

Why would I need to find one?

  • If you need cosmetic dental treatment, such as tooth whitening, braces, or a smile makeover, etc. which is not available on the NHS.
  • If you need an emergency appointment, or you’re on holiday in another part of the UK, a private dentist will often be able to see you there and then.
  • You may have been de-listed from your NHS dentist due to missed appointments, being absent for 15 months, or for some other reason.

How can I find a dentist who treats privately?

There are several ways to find a dentist who works privately. The first would be to search the private healthcare UK database of private dentists.

A personal recommendation is also a good way to find a private dentist – word of mouth endorsement can be useful in helping find dentists in your local area. You could also try searching through the Yellow Pages as many private dentists advertise their services there. If you’re looking for a particular type of treatment, your dentist may refer you to an appropriate private specialist.

All dentists in the UK are permitted to work both as private or NHS dentists and many work as both, but there are several important considerations to take into account before making your final decision, such as location, specialisation, prices, and methods of payment.

When you start your search to find a dentist, think about the following questions:

  • Will you need weekend appointments or out-of-hours emergency cover?
  • Does your fear of dentists mean you need them to use relaxation techniques?
  • Do you need treatment for young children?
  • How does the practice keep up-to-date with the latest treatments and technology?
  • What other services does the practice provide?
  • How and when do they expect you to pay?

When I find a dentist, how will I know what they charge?

It’s worth doing some research as fees for private dental care are set by each individual surgery and can vary greatly depending on where you are. The price is usually dependent on the quality of materials used, general running expenses of the surgery, what type of dental work you’re having, and the length of time it takes. You should always be aware how much the total cost of your treatment will be in advance, so there are no nasty surprises – check the cost before agreeing to the treatment.

Make sure you’re informed of all the ways you can pay (direct payments to the dentist in cash, by card or cheque, fixed regular monthly payments via a payment plan, dental insurance policies) and when you’re required to pay. You may have to make a payment before your treatment, on the day of treatment, or afterwards in instalments.

At the end of your private dentistry treatment, you’re entitled to an itemised bill. This should give details of all the costs you have incurred, including items such as hygienist fees. Cancelling or changing the appointment last minute may incur a fee.

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